Third Party & Independents Archives

Obama dances the presidential gas price two-step

Have no fear about those skyrocketing gas prices! President Barack Obama has decided to launch yet another task force, joining his deficit commission, and his other deficit commission, and his other energy independence commission, and his national energy policy task force on energy efficiency, to get to the bottom of why gas prices have been pumped up (pun intended) so rapidly in late 2010 and early 2011.

Obama said Thursday that the Justice Department will try to “root out” cases of fraud or manipulation in oil markets, even as Attorney General Eric Holder suggested a variety of legal reasons may be behind gasoline’s surge to $4 a gallon. “We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain,” Obama said at a town-hall style meeting at a renewable energy plant in Reno.

Obama, decrying such levels as yet another hardship “at a time when things were already pretty tough,” said Holder was forming the Financial Fraud Enforcement Working Group. The task force will focus some of its investigation on “the role of traders and speculators” in the oil-price surge. The group will include several Cabinet department officials, federal regulators and the National Association of Attorneys General.

Sounds quite forceful, doesn’t it? Sounds like Obama’s really going to put the screws to the price-gougers, doesn’t it?

Sounds like … but isn’t.

Obama’s “task force” is just another bureaucratic boondoggle created for no other reason than to give the asleep-at-the-wheel American public the impression that anything is actually going to be done about gas prices. But Obama’s in excellent company, no matter which political party you support. Because every OTHER president’s fuel efficiency efforts have been such raging successes, right?

And still, somehow, despite all this government scrutiny and strict control and federal law, we’re suckling off the same oil nib now that we were suckling from in the 1970s.

Ronald Reagan, the uber-right’s “American Idol,” actually signed a law to LOWER fuel efficiency standards, reversing the higher standards set into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1975. Why would a president do that, on the back-end of the United States’ first real “energy crisis”? Why? Because lobbyists and executives for General Motors, Shell and Exxon oil, and certain robe-wearing friends of his from 6000 miles to the East convinced him that American gas prices were, at that time, TOO LOW. So, Reagan, the patron saint of TEA Party revisionist history, felt that Americans weren’t paying enough for their gasoline and home heating fuel, and signed a law to jack up prices by an across-the-board median of 27 percent.

In 2003, Bush told us that “Iraqi oil will pay for the entire cost of the war.” In 2005, Bush said he “deeply felt the pain experienced by American citizens over seemingly unfair gas prices.” In 2007, when the average national price ranged from $2.17 to $3.22, then-Sen. Barack Obama demanded that the Federal Trade Commission investigate Big Oil for “price manipulation.” In 2008, presidential candidate Obama urged the Justice Department “to open an investigation into whether energy traders have been engaged in illegal activities that have helped drive up the price of oil and food.” Obama also called for “a windfall profits penalty on oil selling at or over $80 per barrel.” As of Easter 2011, a barrel of oil is selling at slightly above $112, gas is $3.74 at the national average, and Exxon posted yet another miraculous record quarterly profit for the 25th consecutive fiscal quarter. What happened to the windfall profits tax? (That sound you here is crickets.)

There’s a REASON why energy-efficient light rail and mag-lev trains receive so much state and federal government opposition, no matter where they’re proposed and no matter how much factual evidence proves that they are less pollutive and more effective than America’s love of the one-body/one-car mindset. There’s a REASON why the moment somebody farts in some oil-producing wherethef*ckistan, the speculators leap and you see gas prices spike immediately at your local gas pump. There’s a REASON why you see gas prices increase 80-cents in three weeks, but take 11 months to fall back 30-cents to a new “what the market will bear” price plateau. There’s a REASON why the exact same car you own right now has an identical model in Japan that’s getting more than 50 miles-per-gallon. There’s a REASON why every presidential plan always has an implementation date that’s an average of 23.7 years in the future.

And, closer to home, there’s a REASON why solar energy systems in the sun-drenched American southwest are still scoffed at as “not effective enough” and cost an average of $8837 to install in your home … and why the local utility companies charge you a FEE to buy back any excess electricity you generate but don’t need.

Big Oil and The Big Three in Detroit *OWN* the United States government, and all we can do is dance awkwardly when they pull our strings, like the good little puppets we’ve proven to them we are – by doing nothing, for decades, about the Big Lie of American fuel efficiency. They *KNOW* the convenience of being able to drive to the Circle K to buy corn chips and beer at 3:37 a.m. means more to us than a rational gas pricing system.

In other words, we do have a problem with waste, abuse, and fraud. We have wasted years by not developing our own rich resources. We’ve allowed ourselves to be abused by oil companies that take billions of dollars out of our pockets every month and then get federal subsidies for doing so. We’ve defrauded ourselves by not taking any cognitive, decisive or even simple self-preservationist action against the enemy we all know and hate. And if we’d acted on any one of those affronts, it would have not only would insulated us from the political shocks from turmoil of “unrest” in oil-producing regimes, but would also employ hundreds of thousands of Americans in high-paying, energy-producing jobs.

We just continue running on the wheel.

So enough with blaming only Obama for current gas prices and our continued addiction to foreign oil. Every president since Lyndon Johnson has signed a “fuel efficiency plan” into law that wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. America’s international energy dependence is part of a very simple, but very well-oiled machine. Obama’s “commission” is just the latest turning of the screw.

Posted by Gary St. Lawrence at April 22, 2011 1:28 PM
Comment #322103

Obama is no more to “blame” for the high price of gas than Bush was.

Some Obama policies have worked to increase the cost of gas, however. His drilling policy was a direct factor, but probably more important is the indirect result of the cheapening of the dollar. Oil price have gone up less in some other currencies than they have in dollars. As the dollar loses value in relation to other currencies, all products available in those currencies also rise in price in dollars.

The rise in oil prices portent a general inflation that is one the way.

Of course, the trouble in the Middle East is a factor. Obama’s policy is not very different from what Bush would have done, so we cannot blame him specifically.

to your larger point about oil prices in general, the curse of oil actually runs in the other direction. It is generally TOO cheap (as Obama says). We have price spikes, when everybody is interested in alternatives, but the price goes back down.

Oil has external costs related to political risk and CO2, but in most other ways it is a nearly perfect liquid fuel. It is cheap (compared to alternatives) abundant and packs a lot of power into a gallon of fuel. A gallon of ethanol, for example, has only 80% of the energy of gasoline. Hydrogen is much more efficient pound for pound, but it weight almost nothing so a gallon of hydrogen will not get you very far.

You are also right about mileage although for the wrong reason. People respond to price. Gas can cost several times as much in Europe or Japan. When prices rise in the U.S., more people buy hybrids and gas efficient vehicles. When the prices drop, they buy SUVs again.

BTW - the Europeans and Japanese do not drive the “exact same” cars that just get better mileage. Average for the car fleet is smaller in those places. They also have more diesel vehicles and some types of small cars that are not sold here because Americans don’t buy them. Something like a Corolla or a RAV4 are international vehicle. Sometimes they call them by different names and they have some local safety modifications, but they are pretty much the same wherever you go. In Japan, the vehicles have the steering wheel on the other side. The engines in the same types of cars are the same.

Good article, BTW.

Americans can buy cars today that get 40-50 mpg. I have one like that and evidently so does Stephen. Why don’t more people buy them? When we answer that question, we know why we still love to use so much gas, even while complaining.

Posted by: C&J at April 22, 2011 3:27 PM
Comment #322109

We have made a breach in the blockage. As the flow progresses, more of the blockage will be removed.

Posted by: jlw at April 22, 2011 4:36 PM
Comment #322113

When we were in Rome last year I saw Smart Cars and motorcycles everywhere. Less gas consumption, I was told, was not the only reason for the mix. In Rome, the streets are very narrow, winding, and crowded. Gas is quite expensive, and they have adequate public transportation.

There would have been many places in Rome in which both my Lincoln and Kia would be difficult to drive because of their size.

In London, one must have a special sticker (I can’t remember the cost, but it was significant) on their windshield to enter London proper. Even with that, and the much higher cost of gasoline, their streets are still unbelievably crowded with buses, cars and trucks.

And though its been 10 years since I’ve been in Dublin, even then it was one of the worst cities I have ever driven in.

Most American cities are laid out quite differently than most in Europe. What may work there would be difficult to accomplish here.

Since most of our energy use in the US comes from fossil fuel, coal, and nuclear…there are many opportunities to conserve in addition to smaller and quite expensive gas-miser cars.

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 22, 2011 5:07 PM
Comment #322116

Oil production is down 13% in America since Obama took office. Pray tell, what does that do to the price of gas?

1% of news articles, in the MSM, connect the name of Obama to the price of gas. When Bush was president, 100% of news articles pertaing to gas prices were linked to Bush.

Source: Media Research Center.

Posted by: 1776 at April 22, 2011 5:20 PM
Comment #322124

“They also have more diesel vehicles and some types of small cars that are not sold here because Americans don’t buy them.”

Its an interesting question why more diesel powered vehicles are not available in the US. There has been substantial improvements in their performance and pollution control in recent years. Diesel fuel is now cleaner and not more costly to refine. The advantages in mpg are striking. In addition, their pollution emissions are less for CO2, HCs and NOX. There may be some problems with particulate emissions, but on balance the diesel is less a polluter and diesel engineering has made consistent advances in reducing particulate emission. Over half of the new vehicles sold in Europe are diesel. Why not the US? Basically the same performance as gasoline vehicles, much better mpg, less pollution, etc. Why is diesel fuel priced higher than gasoline in the US? Why do we tax diesel fuel higher than gasoline? Why isn’t more diesel fuel available in the US? Are we nuts?

Posted by: Rich at April 22, 2011 6:58 PM
Comment #322127


Because Americans don’t want them. You can buy a diesel car tomorrow. You can buy a hybrid tomorrow. People are not buying. Maybe with the higher prices, they will start to think about it.

Posted by: C&J at April 22, 2011 7:05 PM
Comment #322129

Quantitative easing and other government policies have reduced the value of the dollar here, and especially, around the world.

Oil is priced in dollars and the devalued dollar is one reason that gas price inflation here is so serious. And, with higher fuel prices comes higher prices in food commodities and most everything else we purchase.

To think that one can print excess money with no blow-back is insane.

I heard a speech by obama today on the radio. He was once again calling for increased taxes on those earning over $250K per year. He maintained that while everyone else is suffering from our lackluster economy, the rich don’t feel the pain.

Who exactly are the ones doing the suffering as obama claims. Are those earning $250K per year responsible for unemployment, high fuel and energy prices…high food and clothing prices? Are these “rich” folks responsible for states cutting back in spending?

Are the poor, needy, unemployed and unhealthy not receiving the usual government benefits? My Social Security check continues to be deposited in my bank.

I hope that “Dear Leader” continues with this message right into the election. Blaming Bush and those making over $250K per year for all our problems doesn’t sell well as “change we can believe in”.

Dear Leader fooled a lot of people last time around with his “change” message. Fool me twice…shame on me.

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 22, 2011 7:28 PM
Comment #322130


Americans don’t want them because US and Japanese automakers don’t offer them in the US and don’t market the advantages. I suspect the cost of retooling for diesels is an important factor in that marketing plan. They also last a lot longer than gasoline engines and decrease turnover of vehicles.

The higher prices for diesel fuel is another factor. It is driven, from what I can gather, by a no longer relevant excise tax and lack of domestic refining capacity for diesel. We compete against Europe for access to refined diesel and then tax it above gasoline.

In my opinion, this is crazy. Europe gets to enjoy longer lasting, high performance vehicles at much lower mpg costs. In the meantime, we use tax dollars to bail out the US auto industry and subsidies the US oil industry.

Posted by: Rich at April 22, 2011 7:30 PM
Comment #322132

“Oil production is down 13% in America since Obama took office.”

Nonsense. It is not. In fact, in 2010, it was at the highest level since 2002. “US oil production last year rose to its highest level in almost a decade, thanks to an increase in the use of “unconventional” extraction techniques. As a result, analysts believe the US was the largest contributor to the increase in global oil supplies last year over 2009, and is on track to increase domestic production by 25 per cent by the second half of the decade.”

Posted by: Rich at April 22, 2011 7:35 PM
Comment #322135


I was just thinking of buying a car for my daughter. Among the options are diesel and hybrids. It is a hard decision, since they cost significantly more. We bought a hybrid in 2005 and only now do I think we are actually breaking even.

Most people don’t want these vehicles. We have met the enemy and they are us.


The problem for Obama is gas cost $1.84 on the day when Obama took office. There are lots of factors in the price. Liberals used to blame “oilmen in the White House”. They were obviously wrong. But if they blamed Bush, it is certainly fair to blame Obama, although neither are to blame.

Posted by: C&J at April 22, 2011 7:40 PM
Comment #322143

These are all valid points regarding the use of diesel. I think one of the main reasons why people don’t buy diesel powered vehicles is because they just don’t realize that diesel is at least as clean as, and more efficient than gasoline. In addition to that, diesel engines have fewer moving parts, are more reliable and last longer than gasoline engines. I had two friends that had identical trucks, with the exception of the engines. The one with the gas engine got about 12 mpg, while the one with the diesel engine got about 18 mpg. Diesel fuel is also safer than gasoline due to having a higher flash point. A lit cigarette dropped in a cup of gasoline will ignite the fuel. Dropped in a cup of diesel fuel, the cigarette will be extinguished (kids, don’t try this at home).

For decades, the environmental lobby painted diesel as an extremely dirty, polluting fuel. While that was true to some extent at one time, that’s really not the case anymore as hasn’t been for many years. I would imagine that most people just frankly don’t know that in reality, it is a much better fuel than gasoline, both economically and environmentally.

Posted by: Kevin Nye at April 22, 2011 11:54 PM
Comment #322144

The trick always seems to be to state something counterintuitive with such confidence that it seems as firm as fact.

Look, the reason that gas prices have gone up is that the energy market’s recovered from the credit crunch and the subsequent selling off of Oil Futures, and the need for more fuel has gone up with the improvement of the general economy, and the recovery of our competitors from their economic downturn.

But Republicans are unlikely to change either part of the situation, so I don’t know why they’re complaining about our solutions, which actually do deal with it.

First, we need less volatile, less bubble-and-speculation-driven markets, less people driving tankers around in circles to artificially depress supply.

Second, we need to stop depending on the real supply, so we’re no longer competing for the same fuel source as the Chinese, the Indians, and the rest of the world.

These solutions are pretty simple, but because they run afoul of energy interests, and because Republican politics is so deadset against anything that smacks of liberalism, They’re going to reject both solutions, and instead pursue the same policy that failed to get us out of this position.

Oh, and C&J? Your friends in the Bush Administration were the ones who set up the energy markets the way they were, so this kind of price gouging would be possible. I know you think the statute of limitations on ****-ups ran out on January 20th, 2009, but so long as your policy persists, and you successfully block its reform, then your people bear blame.

Ah, but trying to ask you guys these days to accept responsibility for what Bush did, despite all the effort you went through to support and justify it at the time, is like pulling teeth. It all has to be Obama’s fault.

Oh, I know, it’s not purely Bush’s problem. But research the legal justifications, and it comes back to many of the Bush policies, especially the 2005 legislation that resulted from the task force of energy interests that Dick Cheney organizated, and which he did great harm to Congressional oversight to protect.

Does a person become culpable for helping create a problem only when theirs are the only finger prints on it?

I am much more aware of the degree to which my party got compromised on these issues, became supporters of the Republican Policies, than people will give me credit for. Is that to suggest, then, that I should just quiet my protests, like a good little Democrat, since my party signed onto that policy?

Not a chance. There is a difference between following and leading. I know who lead on this matter. I know what became of my party the last few decades. I watched it happening. See, everytime some Republican rubs that in my face, my thought is, does this fellow realize that I’m not content with, or defending that in any way?

Does he or she realize that I don’t depend on some sense of perfect integrity coming from my party to justify the policies I advocate?

For me, the question of policy starts from the basic questions of function and policy. Blame, insofar as its useful, is about holding people accountable for particular decisions, in an effort to make it politically untenable to keep those positions.

So, if the allegation of hypocrisy is a transparent attempt to paralyze a criticism that applies perfectly well, in fact more so to the GOP, why should I not feel somewhat offended? You’re telling me that because some of my party’s members collaborated with yours, that your party’s fullbore, overwhelmingly successful advocacy for a steaming pile of error should go unremarked upon?

I intend to push back against both, actually, but I feel much more force and direct opposition needs to be brought to bear against the Republicans because this is their basic platform, rather than a compromising of it. A compromiser can be given motivation to strike a better balance. The true believer has to be confronted directly.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 23, 2011 1:52 AM
Comment #322149


I repeat, I do not blame Obama for higher gas prices any more than you should have blamed Bush. But you did. So if Bush did it then Obama can be blamed now by those who believe in the politics of these things.

This is the inconvenient truth. Democrats held both houses of Congress from 2007-2011. They held both houses of Congress plus the presidency from 2009-2011 and they current still hold one house of Congress plus the presidency.

I know you like to blame Republicans, but it just doesn’t make any logical sense when Democrats run most of the parts of government. So maybe it is not fair to blame Obama and Democrats, but it sure makes no sense to blame anybody else.

BTW - that tanker myth of yours is older than you are. It is just silly and has been disproved many times. The oil market is not really free, since most exportable oil is controlled by governments, often nasty ones. You can cry about this fact, but that is just the way it is. You cannot blame Republicans or oil companies. When oil companies actually controlled supplies, gas cost around a quarter a gallon.

Simple numbers. When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007, gas was about $2 a gallon. The day president Obama took over it was about $1.85. Now it is higher. How can you blame those who came before when Obama “inherited” a low gas price and after a couple years of his policies it is significantly higher and rising?

Posted by: C&J at April 23, 2011 10:41 AM
Comment #322151


Apparently, you’ve chosen to conveniently overlook the fact that Republicans held both houses of Congress and the Presidency for all of 2000-2006.

On January 24, 2000 (the first week reported after Bush took office), the median price of regular unleaded was $1.46. On January 19, 2008 (Nush’s last day in office), the median price of regular unleaded was $3.26.

Here is the literal weekly price report from the Department of Energy, EMEU International. So please don’t try to dismiss the facts with the “Oh yeah, but those are Obama’s numbers” game, okay?

Prices hiked by 223% while Republicans controlled every conceivable oversight and policy channel there is.

Obama f’ed up by extending and maintaining Bush’s & Cheney’s asinine energy policies. But the iron in the fire was put there by your guys.

That, my friend, is the inconvenient truth.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at April 23, 2011 11:17 AM
Comment #322153


Who is “nush”?

And who’s last day of office was in January 2008? We hold regular elections the first Tuesday in November in even years and winners take office the following January in odd ones. If “nush” means “Bush he left office in January 2009, when gas was around $1.85, as I wrote.

Your link doesn’t work, BTW. This is probably the one you want.

It shows the price of gas in January 2001 (when Bush took office) at $1.458 and in January 2009 (when he left office) at $1.832 If you put it into the inflation calculator You find less than a dimes worth of difference.

On the other hand when Obama took office in January 2009, the price was $1.832. Now it is $3.787. I am not really good at math but it seems a lot more than a dime. You can figure out the % change if you want.

And technically Republicans did not hold both houses of congress for that time. In May of 2001 Jim Jeffords, Senator from Vermont, became an independent, and caucused with the Democrats, giving them control of the Senate until January of 2003. This is why the Iraq vote in the Senate was so interesting. The Democrats controlled the Senate when the resolution was passed.

So the inconvenient truth is that gas prices were almost the same on the day Bush left office as the day he came in. We can look around and find the data that fits our own scenarios, but it is better if we stick the the truth.

Posted by: C&J at April 23, 2011 12:26 PM
Comment #322156

The Principle reasons why gas prices were 1.85 when Bush left was The crash of those prices along with the rest of the economy. Otherwise the would have remained at 3 or 4 dollar levels.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 23, 2011 1:27 PM
Comment #322157


“For of all sad words of tongue or pen,The saddest are these: “It might have been!”

Who knows what might have been? The fact is that when Obama took office gas prices were a lot lower. If Obama managed to get them back up to the “Bush levels” you talk about, maybe it was not Bush who did it, any more than Obama is responsible for the rocketing gas prices.

Posted by: C&J at April 23, 2011 1:43 PM
Comment #322163

For 8 years Bush and Cheney were blasted by the media. When gas prices rose it was because oil tycoons were in the WH. The rise in prices was tied in with Halliburton and they were in turn tied in with Bush and Cheney. Today the price of gas is much higher and where is the connection to the WH and to Obama by the same MSM.

Are there any liberals on WB who have the honor or integrity to say Bush was not treated the same as Obama has been treated by the MSM. As C&J have said, if Bush was not to blame, neither is Obama, but if Bush was blamed, and he was, why isn’t Obama being blamed?

The left’s goal is to protect Obama at all costs, no matter what he does. I believe we have gone beyond hypocrisy, to ridiculous.

Posted by: 1776 at April 23, 2011 3:39 PM
Comment #322170

If you don’t trust my memory, just google it.

It’s not a matter of what might have been, but what actually did occur.

Bush policies changed the price of fuels by encouraging more speculation, more chicanery regarding the prices. His policies encouraged less efficient use of fuel.

And the rest of the world, thanks to corporate policies that have relocated a lot of business there, now has stronger economies which compete more effectively for our fuel supply.

It was only the staggering amout of resources and people idled by the financial crisis that cut consumption by as much as it did. It was only the drastic reduction in speculation that let oil prices reach a more natural equilibrium vis-a-vis the market conditions.

But we’ve recovered, and so have the speculators, and thanks to Republicans, we’re not getting near the reforms and the research in place to counter either problem.

Oh, that’s right, I can’t blame you folks for opposing the changing of the policies that got us into this position. I can only blame Democrats for not jumping, whoopin’ and hollerin’ onto the bandwagon to drill more wells that will have nothing but a pennies on the gallon effect on gas prices.

I remember what gas prices were like when I had to fill up tank of gas right before Hurricane Ike. I remember the reports that said with demand down, the gas prices were dropping. I remember hearing about the dumping of the oil futures by cash-starved banks looking for money to keep themselves solvent.

I also remember how gas prices changed over the course of the Bush Administration. I remember how the Bush adminsitration allowed more consolidation in the oil industry, which encouraged the larger oil companies to shed refineries and other facilities that were now redundant, leaving America with a tighter supply chain that was often battered by events like Hurricanes and refinery accidents like the one I recalled from the mid-2000s.

So, if you think you’re going to convince me with some vague talk about Obama being in office, so he has to be responsible, if you think you can make me forget the opposition that Republicans have to any policy that would cut into Energy trader profits, or which would use federal resources to push green technology that would help us kick the addiction (Nothing to signal such opposition like a 70% cut in funding in the Republicans Budget proposal.), you’re kidding yourself. The plain fact is, I know better than to accept your claims. It may work with somebody’s who’s defending Obama based on some vague sentiment of their own, but I know enough about the subject to base my sentiments on the facts.

I’m not blaming Bush for this based on some sort of vague, “He was there” argument. The Republicans rewrote the rules of the market, rewrote the rules of the businesses in question to enable this kind of price-gouging and market manipulation, and it only faltered when the rest of the economy went off the cliff and objective demand itself shrunk. That’s how we got $1.85 gas: less demand, less people screwing with the price. Supply didn’t change enough in the short time between Fall 2008 and January 2009 to explain that kind of drop.

Or, to put it another way: the gas prices at the end of Bush’s term weren’t cheap because of what Bush got right.

Well, you know that Dick Cheney fought tooth and nail to keep his guest list at his energy task force a secret. The law and policies based on his task force’s regulations force passed in 2005, clearly within the time of the Bush/Republican Congress partnership.

And really, if Cheney wanted to avoid charges of impropriety, other than being forthcoming with information like who was giving him advice, we could try not to get no-bid contracts for the company we were just running.

Policies don’t simply go away when the executive changes. We’re not Great Britain. The policies remain until an executive order or an act of Congress changes them.

The simple question here is this: who wrote the rules, and who now fights to keep them the same at all costs? It’s not difficult. Look at who, when given the choice, decides to continue needless subsidies and tax breaks to oil and gas companies who don’t need it, and who pretend that fracking isn’t a big environmental problem.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 23, 2011 7:39 PM
Comment #322174


Prices of gas went up and down. When it went up, I don’t recall you crediting the great economy created by Bush. You have to live by both ups and downs.

Let’s rephrase - if you thought that the price of gas was high because of the great Bush economy, you can credit Obama the same way. But you didn’t.

You still have the basic problem. Bush and Obama are in essentially the same situations. When it was Bush, you called him a crook and incompetent. By the same criteria, Obama must be a crook and incompetent. Or else Bush was a great guy too.

There remains the bottom line. Gas was $1.85 when Obama took over. BTW - when the gas price was so high under Bush back in 2007, unemployment was 4.6%. With the Obama plan we get BOTH high gas prices and high unemployment. Great job Barack!

So, Stephen, once again you have proven that Bush is better than Obama. Is that your goal?

Posted by: C&J at April 23, 2011 8:13 PM
Comment #322176

“Are those earning $250K per year responsible for unemployment, high fuel and energy prices…high food and clothing prices? Are these “rich” folks responsible for states cutting back in spending?”

According to the repubs those making over 250k/yr. are the ones that create jobs in this country. It seems as if they have not been creating enough jobs Royal as unemployment is high. Perhaps the tax should be increased on the large companies that send the jobs overseas, but they buy our representatives so that seems to be an idea that goes no where.
High fuel prices are due in a large part to speculation. I would think speculators are in the above 250k range. Food and clothing prices are higher because of the fuel prices. The Farmers have some pretty big tractors to keep fuel in and those trucks that deliver the clothes to market use a bit as well.

States are cutting back in spending due to a drop on revenue. In Wisconsin at least the rich got a tax cut on the back of the state employees wage cuts, as Walker campaigned upon.

So I guess the answer to your question is yes.

Posted by: j2t2 at April 23, 2011 9:31 PM
Comment #322178

So from Stephen’s remarks, we must accept the fact that the hypocrite left lives by double standards. The MSM was correct in blaming Bush for high oil prices and they are also correct in not blaming Obama for the same high oil prices. Is it just me, or is there a double standard. Yes, there is a double standard and there has always been a double standard. The left has no honor or integrity. They cannot even admit when hypocrisy is committed by the Press. Tell me, those of you who are conservatives, why do you waste your time arguing with simple minded liberals? They worship the ground that Obama walks on; he can do no evil. To the liberal, if he speaks, they are the words of a god. Of all the mistakes and lies committed by Obama, not one single liberal is willing to call him out on it. It is disgusting the way they protect him. The left whined and cried about the two wars Bush got us into, even though democrats voted to support it, and yet Obama has got us into another conflict and not one word from the left. The left cried about terrorist in GITMO when Bush was in charge, and yet Obama has decided to keep them in GITMO. Yet, not one one of decent among the left. In fact, Obama decided to keep GITMO open and yet the left blamed republicans for the decision. Gasoline is approaching $6 a gallon and the left will try to find any excuse to cover for Obama. When food doubles in price, and when those in America who still have jobs are not able to afford gas to get to work, who’s fault will it be then? When the value of houses keeps dropping and more and more go into forcloser, who’s fault will it be then? When people can’t afford to heat their homes, whose fault will it be then. You know, sometimes people can be very stupid but I think there is a time coming when the American people will begin to equate Obama with our problems. And in the day, the MSM will still be running interference for Obama, and the left on WB will still be blaming everything on Bush.

Posted by: 1776 at April 23, 2011 11:30 PM
Comment #322179

I wholeheartedly agree with you 17.

Here is a great story, but you must remember “there has never been a tax that a democrat didn’t like”. I love this one:

“OLYMPIA, Wash. – Drivers of electric cars may have left the gas pump behind, but there’s one expense they may not be able to shake: paying to maintain the roads.
After years of urging residents to buy fuel-efficient cars and giving them tax breaks to do it, Washington state lawmakers are considering a measure to charge them a $100 annual fee — what would be the nation’s first electric car fee.
State lawmakers grappling with a $5 billion deficit are facing declining gas tax revenue, which means less money to maintain or improve roads.
“Electric vehicles put just as much wear and tear on our roads as gas vehicles,” said Democratic state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, the bill’s lead sponsor. “This simply ensures that they contribute their fair share to the upkeep of our roads.”
Other states are trying to find solutions to the same problem, as cars become more fuel-efficient and, now, don’t use any gas at all.
In Oregon, lawmakers are considering a bill to charge drivers of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles based on the number of miles they drive. In Mississippi, lawmakers briefly considered a similar plan. In Texas, significant opposition scuttled an electric vehicle fee.
In Washington state, some electric car drivers and lawmakers are against the fee, saying they prefer paying based on how much they actually drive.”

When the demand for gas and diesel drops, who picks up the loss of gas taxes, which pay for the highways? How ignorant are people to believe, if they listen to the government, life will be easier. I’ll just stick with my truck, somehow I believe I will come out wining in he end.

Posted by: Mike at April 23, 2011 11:56 PM
Comment #322187

Since our infrastructure either needs or will need to be rebuilt, the solution to electric cars is an easy one. An electrical gird system built into the highways. A maintenance fee is charged for accessing the grid. Electric car travel mileage will only be limited by the necessities of it’s passengers. A similar maintenance fee can be applied to commuters who charge their cars at home.

What would building that do for our economy?

Posted by: jlw at April 24, 2011 3:29 PM
Comment #322200

“The MSM was correct in blaming Bush for high oil prices and they are also correct in not blaming Obama for the same high oil prices.”

I don’t recall anybody blaming Bush, per se, for the high oil prices. What was reported in the media during the run up in oil prices from 2004-2008 was that it was due to: a fall in the value of the dollar during that period; a worldwide increase in demand and speculation.

During this period, you can also blame the conservative head of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, for his policies explicitly designed to inflate asset prices above their normal market value. Quantitative easing was designed to move financial assets out of Treasuries into more risky markets, i.e., equities, commodities, etc. It is succeeding. As for the effect on main street, not so certain.

Posted by: Rich at April 24, 2011 8:22 PM
Comment #322202


If you missed that blaming Bush, you must have been living under a rock.

I did a google search and in a few seconds found all this -

Many of the people on this blog, this posting, still blame Bush.

Posted by: C&J at April 24, 2011 9:03 PM
Comment #322205

Good lord Rich, I watched the head of Media Research Center shw news clips just 2 days ago. They showed all kinds of clips blaming Bush for the cost of gas.

I believe this is whole point of this discussion: why was Bush blamed but Obama is not? If Bush was at fault, then Obama must be too.

Posted by: Mike at April 24, 2011 10:30 PM
Comment #322209

Clearly, the entire point of my article was either missed completely, or just intentionally ignored in favor of partisan tongue-bathing.

It literally doesn’t matter what the facts are anymore. The idiots on the right have been programmed. The idiots on the left have been programmed. And the lies from both sides, along with the self-perpetuating hypocritical finger-pointing are all that anyone gives a sh*t about anymore.

Both parties operate on nothing more than one command: “To hell with personal responsibility! Blame the other guy and foster as much hate as possible for anyone who doesn’t think exactly what I’ve been told to think.”

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at April 25, 2011 12:39 AM
Comment #322216

Gary, do you expect anything else; we have a president and congress all blamming each other.

Posted by: Miley at April 25, 2011 8:07 AM
Comment #322220

There was an economist on CNN this morning and he couldn’t pin point a reason for high gas prices other than the unrest in the Middle East. Said he didn’t like the $4B subsidy given the oil companies but that alternative energies were given far more, which he didn’t like.

With the oil price pegged to the dollar one can see how oil would rise as the dollar evaporates.

Oil companies are posting quarterly profits this morning with some reporting $20-40B.

One might question why oil prices would be allowed to rise like this in the middle of the the ‘great recession’. But then, borders are wide open, risky financials and hedgefunds go unregulated. IMO, its all a continuation of the corpocracy working to break the back of the middle class.

Regardless, any recovery will be stymied with oil prices at this level.

Otherwise - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at April 25, 2011 10:54 AM
Comment #322231


Ok, ok, I stand corrected on the Bush criticism.

Posted by: Rich at April 25, 2011 5:08 PM
Comment #322276

Gary St. Lawrence-
It might not matter to some people what the facts are, but that doesn’t mean the facts themselves don’t matter.

The bottom line is, until the folks who care about getting a sane energy policy get back into power, we will be stuck with this current policy. That’s the way our Democracy works.

Your bottom line is context, content, and causality free. You just throw out the number. You don’t mention the plummet of demand, nor the selling off of oil futures which I remember quite clearly from that period being reported as the cause of the price drop.

This is important, because here you, or the think-tank you’re getting your talking points from, is trying to pull a fast one, attributing what is actually the indirect consequence of a massive policy disaster to having a superior energy policy.

I mean, it’s sort of like saying, if you’re honest, that the secret to getting good gas prices is to have a crushing economic disaster when prices get too high. No thanks.

We need to decrease demand not through the reduction of economic activity, but through the increase in efficiency, and the use of energy sources not derived from petroleum.

As for Bush’s unemployment rate? Don’t insult my intelligence here. First, while you’re willing to cite gas prices at the end of Bush’s term to paint an overly rosy picture of otherwise intolerable oil prices, you seem oddly unwilling to remind people that at the end of Bush’s tenure that unemployment had already risen to 7.6, and was already increasing at eight hundred thousand jobs a month. Between the start of the recession and when Obama got into office, 4.4 million of the 7.49 million jobs lost were lost before he even got into office.

Heckuva job, Bushie!

Obama’s problem is that as the economy gets better, here and worldwide, people use more gas, and supply has not risen to match. Drill baby drill? Won’t matter for prices right now, and supply will continue to lag demand.

It’s simple economics, and as long as we stick to your party’s plan, a guarantee of high prices and our nation’s need to care about them.

If you want to blame everything on Obama, there’s nothing I can do to stop you, but nothing you can do productive on that basis, either.

This is the system you want, and it’s becoming more expensive by the day, because it’s not just us enjoying it anymore. The Chinese have parked the bicycles, and bought the new cars, the Arab Sheikhs are building skyscrapers, and india is rapidly becoming a richer nation as well.

The current system has outlived its usefulness. And you’re running interference for that system. You’re apologists for a system that isn’t working under Obama, but which will work no better under you, if you take power.

The Right always has an excuse as to why people don’t praise their policies, because they can’t face the reality that people don’t actually like those policies, and they don’t actually work.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 26, 2011 1:00 PM
Comment #322300

Okay SD; I’ll continue to blame Obama.

Posted by: 1776 at April 26, 2011 7:09 PM
Comment #322303

If I may bring this post back on subject. This is a very interesting summary of Obama’s energy policy found at PowerLine. Of course it is shared by permission:

“The Obama Administration is clearly the most anti-energy administration ever. Will Collier has a noteworthy item up today over at PajamasMedia on soaring gasoline prices and the Obama Administration’s hypocritical policy of paying lip service to increased oil production at home while doing everything possible to hinder any real increase in domestic oil production. (For example, Greg Pollowitz notes over at NRO’s Planet Gore that the Obama EPA has once again denied an operating permit for Shell Oil to begin drilling offshore in Alaska—where there is an estimated 27 billion barrels of crude to be had—on a lease where Shell has shelled out over $6 billion to get started.)

Collier points out that the last time world oil prices surged, to $145 a barrel in July 2008, President Bush ended the moratorium on additional offshore drilling by executive order, and oil prices began falling the next day. Coincidence? Collier thinks not, and makes a strong case.

But there’s two other aspects of our current moment that bear noting. First, remember that Obama said that under his energy policy prices “would necessarily skyrocket.” Okay, he was talking about electricity prices, but keep in mind that his Energy Secretary, Stephen Chu (who, we are always reminded is a Nobel Prize winner—almost as often as we’re reminded that John Kerry served in Vietnam) said back in his earliest days for Obama that gasoline prices in the U.S. should rise to European levels. Well, now that we’re getting closer to European price levels, what exactly is the problem?

Just this: high prices for energy are only fun, for a liberal, if they’re the result of a tax. If they are the result of market forces (along with stupid government policy), then it’s “speculation,” or “price-gouging” by the oil companies, or even some dark conspiracy that is never borne out upon investigation. In other words, if the government slapped a $2 tax on gasoline, it would be “enlightened,” but if supply and demand drives the price up, it’s “gouging.”

But that’s only the beginning of liberal illiteracy on energy. Liberals have been wrong on energy for as long as I can remember. I recall in The Age of Reagan how liberals reacted to Reagan’s decontrol of oil prices, executed on his first day in office:

“The conventional wisdom was that oil prices would surely head higher as a result of Reagan’s move. Democrats and liberal interest groups seemed to compete with each other for the most fulsome expression of economic illiteracy. In the annals of public policy prognostication it is difficult to find such a wide assembly of wrongheadedness. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio said took to the Senate floor the next day to predict that “we will see $1.50 gas this spring, and maybe before. And it is just a matter of time until the oil companies and their associates, the OPEC nations, will be driving gasoline pump prices up to $2 a gallon.” Sen. Don Riegle of Michigan said that “It will hurt our people within a matter of days.” Sen. Dale Bumpers of Arkansas had previously predicted that “without rationing, gasoline will soon go to $3 a gallon,” and now added that “Decontrol is designed to see how much we can squeeze out of the American people before they take to the streets.” Maine’s Sen. George Mitchell said “Every citizen and every family will find their living standards reduced by this decision.” Democratic Congressman Ed Markey said “I believe that decontrol as a cure will prove to be worse than the disease of oil addiction.” A Naderite advocacy group predicted that oil prices might go as high as $870 a barrel “under assumptions which many experts believe are realistic.” Instead oil prices started falling almost immediately; from an average high of $1.41 in February 1981, pump prices fell steadily to a national average of 89 cents a gallon in the spring of 1986. Oil imports from OPEC fell by 2 million barrels a day by the end of 1982.”

Keep this in mind the next time a liberal says more oil production in the U.S. won’t do any good.”


Posted by: Mike at April 26, 2011 8:28 PM
Comment #322311


Okay, take unemployment at the end of Bush. It was 7.6%. That also means it was 7.6% at the start of Obama and it has been higher since, even though Obama’s folks told us that w/o his big spending plans it would reach 8%. It went a lot higher.

At the end of Bush’s first term (2005) unemployment was 5.1% up from 4.7%. A rise of 0.4%. That means if unemployment is more than 8% at the end of next year, Obama will not have done as well as Bush. He only needs to shave off another 0.8%. Of course that will not look very good for the one who promised so much.

So we have Obama and sky high gas prices and Obama with sky high unemployment and Obama with sky high debt. By next year, we will have Obama with growing inflation.

Posted by: C&J at April 26, 2011 9:42 PM
Comment #322312

The unemployment rate charts are interesting

Posted by: C&J at April 26, 2011 9:48 PM
Comment #322319

C&J said:

“At the end of Bush’s first term (2005) unemployment was 5.1% up from 4.7%. A rise of 0.4%.”

Thanks for the info C&J. It got me to thinking about what was being said concerning the 0.4% rise in unemployment in 2005, so I Googled it and found some amazing results. I am adding one response of many from none other than the home of liberalism, the dailykos. I wonder if anyone at the kos and especially our friend Mr. Daugherty has written a similar article about the deceptive unemployment practices of Obama and company?

“Unemployment Deception

Friday’s decline in unemployment is another testament to the Bush administration’s statistical chicanery. The raw numbers give an unemployment rate of 5.1%. However, using the mystical “seasonal adjustment,” the rate declines to 4.7%. Though the payroll employment number rose by 193,000, the number of those who dropped out of the participating labor force increased by 168,000. Below is a copy of the “Not In Labor Force” numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This information can also be found at the “Not In Labor Force” statistics from Bureau of Labor Statistics site at: N.I.L.F. During November the number of new dropouts from the labor force was 250,000. Thus, over the last 2 months the number of “Not In Labor Force” workers has increased by 418,000. In fact, at a different section of the U.S. BLS site, the non-seasonally adjusted increase in the number of unemployed workers increased 652,000 in the last month alone, from 6.956 million in December to 7.608 million in January 2006. Over the last 2 months, the number of new payroll jobs has increased by only 233,000.This can be found at BLS: Employment

Thus the number of those dropping out of the labor force had increased almost twice as much as the number of new jobs, even when using “seasonally-adjusted” numbers. Using non-seasonally adjusted numbers for the last month alone, the 652,0000 workers dropping out of the labor force is over 3 times the number of new jobs created.

Both seasonal adjustment, and alteration of the “Not In Labor Force” workers has a tremendous effect on the unemployment rate. Those that drop out of the participation labor force (labelled as “Not In Labor Force”) are NOT counted as unemployed. As a result their number is not included in the total for unemployed workers. With a total employment 143.07 million, and a total participating labor force of 150.11 million, there are 7 million unemployed workers. This gives an unemployment percentage of 4.7%. However, if the “non-seasonally” adjusted numbers were used (which are the actual raw numbers recorded by the BLS) the total number of employed workers would be 141.48 million, total participating labor force of 149.09 million, and a total of 7.608 million unemployed. Again, these latter numbers are the actual raw numbers, not the “adjusted” ones used to concoct the 4.7% number. Using the raw numbers, the unemployment rate would be 5.1%. Below is a copy of the page from the BLS showing these numbers.

These numbers can also be found at Employment.

Furthermore, even these latter numbers do not take into account the unusually high number of people who just stopped looking for work. It’s just amazing how many more people have given up on finding a job under Bush than they did under Clinton. In fact, people have dropped out of the labor force under Bush at twice the rate they did during Clinton’s last 5 years. In fact, had the dropout rate from the labor force over the last 5 been the same as that under Clinton, the number of those counted as “unemployed” would be 10.5 million, instead of the current 7 million. And this change alone would make the unemployment rate 7.0%, instead of 4.7%. If the seasonal adjustment factor had not been used as well, the total number unemployed would be 11.1 million, and the unemployment rate would be 7.3%.

Don’t be deceived by a 4.7% unemployment rate. The numbers have been cooked by the Bush administration. Not only have they reclassified 3.5 million from unemployed into the “not-in-labor-force” category, they’ve used the so-called “seasonal adjustment” factor to reduce the rate even further. Without the “not-in-labor-force” manipulation, the unemployment rate would be 7.0%. But even when using that manipulation, the raw numbers put the unemployment rate at 5.1%. However, by the magic of the “seasonal adjustment” factor, that 5.1% has been further reduced to 4.7%.

The Bush administration is the most dishonest, corrupt, and incompetent administration in U.S. history.”

Posted by: Mike at April 26, 2011 10:24 PM
Comment #322320

“Can’t we just all get along”. Why do Republicans say such evil things for the purpose of making liberals angry. Oh, wait a minute…this was posted by a liberal. Sorry, my bad.

Posted by: 1776 at April 26, 2011 10:27 PM
Comment #322348

The Republican takeover of the House insured that there would be no comprehensive energy policy promoting alternative energy and conservation and thus paved the way for higher oil prices.

Posted by: jlw at April 27, 2011 10:51 AM
Comment #322355

jlw said:

“The Republican takeover of the House insured that there would be no comprehensive energy policy promoting alternative energy and conservation and thus paved the way for higher oil prices.”

This foolish talk. Obama has not offered an energy plan. Read this post, written by a liberal blogger:

It’s entitled “Obama’s Disappointing Energy Plan”. Even by the standards of the left, Obama has no energy plan. Klein refers to Obama’s statements, as Palin “Drill Baby Drill” talking points. We are facing $5-7 a gallon gas, and 10-15% increase in food and dry goods costs.

As much as you love and worship Obama; he is dead in Nov. 2012 with these rising costs. Jimmy Carter died for the same reason. An energy plan is great, and using alternative energy is great, but we don’t have alternative energy and American needs energy now. Don’t come on here blaming the Republican House for something Obama and he Democrats have not addressed.

Posted by: 1776 at April 27, 2011 3:58 PM
Comment #322358


Did you actually read the article you linked re: Obama’s disappointing energy plan? The reason that it has received liberal criticism is that it promotes domestic oil production. Now, I thought that you would applaud that. You certainly have written a lot about the need to exploit more US oil reserves.

Posted by: Rich at April 27, 2011 5:39 PM
Comment #322370

Yes Rich, I read the link…

jlw said, “The Republican takeover of the House insured that there would be no comprehensive energy policy promoting alternative energy and conservation and thus paved the way for higher oil prices.”

Then you say, “The reason that it has received liberal criticism is that it promotes domestic oil production.”

Please tell me why the Republicans would block a plan that promotes the drilling of oil, and also tell me how the drilling for more oil will pave the way for higher oil prices?

The truth is that Obama has no plan; why would republicans block a plan that the democrats don’t like?

The left just sets around looking for liberal talking points, and then you copy and paste them to WB. None of what you or jlw makes any sense. Either the Republicans want to drill for more oil or they want to block Obama, which is it? It can’t be both.

Posted by: 1776 at April 27, 2011 7:54 PM
Comment #322372


“paved the way for higher prices”. You mean that the Democrats, who did nothing much when they were in charge, would have done something in the first month of their 2011 term and then it would already be working?

This is definitely the triumph of hope over experience.

Posted by: C&J at April 27, 2011 8:12 PM
Comment #322373


This may come as surprise to you, but not all liberals support every thing Obama proposes. In this instance, a liberal commentator was critical of the emphasis on domestic oil production.

“Please tell me why the Republicans would block a plan that promotes the drilling of oil,”

That’s a good question. Obama’s energy plan in a nutshell is to increase the supply of current energy sources, i.e., oil, gas, nuclear, coal, etc., for the short term and to invest in alternative renewable sources of energy for the future. Pretty plain vanilla in my opinion.

Posted by: Rich at April 27, 2011 8:13 PM
Comment #322376

While Obama is talking drilling out of one side of his mouth, he is allowing his EPA to shut down drilling out of the other. So much for Obama’s drilling efforts…

“U.S. Energy in America: EPA Rules Force Shell to Abandon Oil Drilling Plans
By Dan Springer

Published April 25, 2011

Shell Oil Company has announced it must scrap efforts to drill for oil this summer in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska. The decision comes following a ruling by the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board to withhold critical air permits. The move has angered some in Congress and triggered a flurry of legislation aimed at stripping the EPA of its oil drilling oversight.

Shell has spent five years and nearly $4 billion dollars on plans to explore for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The leases alone cost $2.2 billion. Shell Vice President Pete Slaiby says obtaining similar air permits for a drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico would take about 45 days. He’s especially frustrated over the appeal board’s suggestion that the Arctic drill would somehow be hazardous for the people who live in the area. “We think the issues were really not major,” Slaiby said, “and clearly not impactful for the communities we work in.”

The closest village to where Shell proposed to drill is Kaktovik, Alaska. It is one of the most remote places in the United States. According to the latest census, the population is 245 and nearly all of the residents are Alaska natives. The village, which is 1 square mile, sits right along the shores of the Beaufort Sea, 70 miles away from the proposed off-shore drill site.”

Posted by: 1776 at April 27, 2011 9:02 PM
Comment #322378


Actually, the EPA approved the permits. It was an appeals board of the EPA that sent the permits back for further review upon complaints filed by native indians and environmental groups that the total air pollution impact had not been properly considered. This appears to be a NIMBY issue.

Posted by: Rich at April 27, 2011 9:30 PM
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